Does Criminal Trespass Require the State to Prove Ownership ?
In State v. Staley (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 1991), relying on Palmer v. State (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 1988) the court of appeals dismissed an information for failure to state an offense because it alleged the defendant trespassed on property "owned by" the complainant rather than using the statutory phrase "of another." See Staley, 814 S.W.2d at 535.
The court explained that "in both statutory and common usage, 'owned by' alleges a lesser burden of proof for the State than is required by the criminal trespass statute." Id.
The reasoning and result of Staley have been implicitly discredited by subsequent court of criminal appeals cases.
See Kinsey, 861 S.W.2d at 384 (information using phrase "owned by" rather than "of another" sufficiently stated offense of criminal trespass; requiring State to prove ownership increases prosecution's burden of proof); Langston, 855 S.W.2d at 721;
See also Vanderburg v. State, 874 S.W.2d 683, 684 (Tex. Crim. App. 1994) (reversing lower court that relied on Staley and Palmer based on holding in Arnold and Langston); State v. Garcia, 861 S.W.2d 386, 387 (Tex. Crim. App. 1992) (reversing lower court that relied on Staley and Palmer based on holding in Kinsey).
In Palmer, the court of appeals reviewed a case in which a defendant was convicted of criminal trespass under an information that alleged ownership. See Palmer, 764 S.W.2d at 333.
The court noted that there was a dispute concerning whether the defendant owned a partial interest in the property at issue. See Palmer, 764 S.W.2d at 335.
The court held that a finding of a "greater right of possession" under the Penal Code's definition of "owner" was not sufficient to support a conviction under the criminal-trespass statute. See Palmer, 764 S.W.2d at 334.
Palmer has likewise been implicitly rejected by the court of criminal appeals in Arnold and Langston. See Arnold, 867 S.W.2d at 378 (State may satisfy criminal-trespass statute in cases where State alleged ownership by proving greater right of possession); Langston, 855 S.W.2d at 721; see also Vanderburg, 874 S.W.2d at 684; Garcia, 861 S.W.2d at 387.